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April 30, 2009

Kansas City

I have not contributed to these pages for a few days because I have been in transition. Alden and I arrived in Kansas City yesterday for a 17-day visit with my dad and Judy. We left Robbi at home. The decision to part was born of sheer necessity. Robbi has a tremendous amount of work to do, and both Alden and I are simply too distracting. And so we are here and Robbi is there and hopefully she will be able to get some things done in our absence. Providing she doesn't sit around moping and eating ice cream all day long.

Alden is very happy to be reunited with Grandpa John.


Her joy is written all over her face.


We have, in fact, had a very nice first day together. Grandma Judy is in New York for a few days, and so it has been just Alden, Dad, and me hanging out, eating, setting up stacks of tupperware, knocking them over, and laughing hysterically. That sort of thing. But that's not what I'm going to talk about. No, I'm just too distracted by something else.

Notice the Williams College long-sleeve t-shirt my dad is wearing in the photo above.


I gave this shirt to him for Christmas during my freshman year of college. I was a college freshman in 1993. My father has been wearing this shirt for more than 15 years.


There is a lesson here, I think, some sort of truth is embedded in this tale. Should we attribute the unlikely persistence of this bygone gift to my father's steadfast loyalty or to the quality of the apparel offered by the Williams Shop, circa 1993?

There will be more tales of Grandpa/baby antics in the days to come. For now, please keep an eye out for Robbi. If you find her passed out on a park bench with an empty gallon container of ice cream beside her, please help rouse her from the sugar coma and lead her back to her desk.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:41 PM

April 26, 2009

New Tool

A few days ago, a box arrived in the mail containing a new illustration tool for Robbi. Although she was extremely excited about the contents, she told herself that she would not open the box until she had finished painting the illustrations for Volume 21. In the wee hours of last night, she finished painting and so allowed herself to open the box. Inside was the Wacom Cintiq tablet. (Watch the short movie if you're interested in seeing how it works.)

One might argue that Robbi's two 23-inch monitors should be sufficient to meet her needs when it comes to total square inches of screen space. One would be wrong. Given the abundance of illustrator/designer page layout sorts of things she has to do all the time, Robbi covers up every inch of monitor space with a mountain of windows and menus. Indeed, Robbi claimed to need one more screen, and so we secured the Cintiq.


The Cintiq basically functions as a virtual canvas/sketchpad. Its surface is pressure sensitive and interacts with a stylus, enabling Robbi to draw or paint directly onto the screen.


Which makes her very happy.


Robbi is particularly happy to have the Cintiq at this particular moment in time because she has to create 50 portraits of famous writers over the next few days. The portraits will be central to the massive, five-wall mural we have been commissioned to paint in the Literary House here at Washington College in early May. The rendering of these 50 portraits should be greatly expedited by the Cintiq and all of its helpful space-age features.

She is over there oohing and aahing over the Cintiq as I write this. I know in my heart that I will not be able to get her attention for at least two weeks. It is so much more efficient, sleek, and time-saving than I am.

This just in: Robbi's first creation on the new tablet.


It seems that there might yet be room for the Cintiq and me in Robbi's crowded heart.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:59 PM

April 24, 2009

Cake is Good

Need I say more?


Posted by bogenamp at 03:09 PM

April 23, 2009

The Time Machine

Our fourth and final One-Page Wonder has been published on Tor.com. Having already exhausted such topics as fights between spacemen and monsters, interplanatary warfare, and deadly love between man and robot, we delve this time into the perils of misbegotten time travel. The Time Machine is without question the oddest of the four One-Page Wonders, but it is perhaps our favorite.

Here are the main characters of this tragic tale.


Click here to download, print, cut, fold, and properly read the tragic tale of Little Dickie, Old Richard, and the wealthy widow. See how time travel leads inevitably to disappointment, how diamonds are not as great as they seem to be, and how bald wigs, though an effective form of disguise, will always get a fellow into trouble. Every time.


If you are devastated to know that the One-Page Wonder oeuvre is now complete, take heart in the fact that we are likely to collaborate with Tor on future work. And if you've somehow made it to this point without viewing Robbi's fun YouTube video with soundtrack by Drew Bunting (and Brian Slattery), put aside your knitting for a minute and have a look.

For those of you who aren't into bald wigs, here is Alden, trying to escape from Cannon's porch, where we went the other day to play in his sandbox.


Realizing escape was impossible, she eventually settled down and decided to enjoy herself instead.


Posted by bogenamp at 11:34 PM

April 22, 2009

Mama's Girl

Robbi and I have been having a running wager, each of us hoping that Alden will show an early preference or inclination for our own art form over the other's. I suppose it was naive of me to think that the baby would suddenly decide to pen her first story, but a father can always dream. It turns out that Alden is clearly her mother's child. Just the other day, she spontaneously decided to begin her career as an artist.


You can see she already has already mastered the tortured angst-ridden part of the profession.


I just pulled the finished piece down from the fridge that it might be scanned and presented here for your enjoyment/amusement.


After completing this initial work, she declared herself a devoted eccentric, donned a floppy pink hat, and set out to find the sunshine.


I can only hope that this work is the first of many and can hardly wait to see what she comes up with next.

And I'm holding out hope that she someday learns to write as well.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:38 PM

April 20, 2009


We drove to Baltimore the other day to surprise Christian for his birthday.


Christian was pleased and gratified that we had considered him worth taking the time and energy to surprise, but it was Iris and Alden who were most excited about us all getting together.


We threw them in the pen together, just to see what would happen. At first they were united in their protest.


Then they each pursued independent attempts at escape.


Eventually, they accepted the terms of their confinement and ended up giving one another foot rubs.


Later, we spent some time relaxing on the front porch.

Iris was determined to have a good time. Alden was resolved to sulk in quiet judgment.


Iris was like, "Dude, Alden, why do you have to be such a booger? It's nice out, we have no pressing obligations. Why can't you just sit back and enjoy life a bit?" Alden was like, "Bite me, Sunbeam."


Then Iris was like, "Hey Alden, I just totally pooped in my pants." And Alden was like, "Yeah, me too."


And all was well in the world.


Later on, just before bedtime, they argued over whose pajamas were more humiliating.


Alden's were deemed to be slightly less flattering than Iris's, but since they were borrowed from Iris (Alden's dumb parents forgot to pack any PJs when frantically packing for the drive across the bay), Iris still won the "most embarrassing sleepwear" competition.

Way back when we first learned that Christian and Emily were going to have a little girl only a few months younger than ours, we imagined that it was going to be fun.


We didn't know the half of it.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:25 PM

April 19, 2009


I know that I am not alone in finding the act of waking a wholly unpleasant thing. Suddenly the pleasures of sleep are past, the aches of the body return, and the day in all its many obligations looms. But lately, mornings have taken on an entirely new dimension. They are still awful, regrettable affairs, but slightly less so than before. Not long after I get up, I also get this.


And this.


And even this.


Usually Alden is almost as happy to see me as I am to see her. In this way, we help each other navigate the cruelest hour.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:49 PM

April 15, 2009

What We Like to See

As you may (or may not) know, Idiots'Books is a subscription service. People sign up to receive a year's worth of our books (eight a year at present). Each time we produce a new book (every 6-7 weeks), we send it out to the subscribership--bringing joy, aesthetic bliss, and occasionally confusion to households all over the country (and in four foreign countries). When a subscription expires, subscribers have to carefully weigh the decision of whether or not to sign on for another year.

Some slip away into obscurity. Others return with enthusiasm. Some document their thought processes for our enjoyment.

We thought you might enjoy seeing a few.

For example, the Fantastic Family Haske, (whose blog is worth a look, especially for those of you who enjoy pictures of babies) sent the following postcard as a means of letting us know that they intended to renew their subscription:



Another subscriber from Vermont let his enthusiasm be known by including a note on his envelope:


And this note on his check:


Perhaps my favorite such subscriber contribution is from our friend Drew, who documented the saga of his subscription's end and ensuing renewal with satisfying drama:


In addition to being deft with large knives, Drew is a singer, songwriter, and certified badass. You may be pleased to know that he has recently created a MySpace page from which you can listen to a bunch of new songs. Or you can become a fan of his on Facebook.

But getting back now to the moral of this post: we love it when you resubscribe with a flourish. Life is too short to merely send a check.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:50 PM

April 12, 2009

True Confessions

A photo surfaced on Facebook the other day. It has forced me to admit to myself and to those who love me that I used to look like this:


It is sad but true. From freshman year of college through the middle of sophomore year, I did not cut my hair. I cannot now explain what I was thinking or whether there was something I was trying to accomplish. I am thankful that I made it through without seriously hurting myself or others along the way. Of course, reminded of that dark time in my life, I'm filled with feelings of anger--toward myself and the various others who failed to intervene and put a stop to the madness.

I have been tempted from time to time to go as far as possible in the opposite direction and shave my head completely bald, at least for once in my life. Robbi has let me know that although she would not stop me from doing such a thing, she also does not endorse the plan. Apparently, I have an ugly scalp, bumpy and covered with odd moles. I'd make a rather unappealing bald man, she thinks.

And so I'll resolve to remain somewhere in the middle.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:21 PM

April 09, 2009


A few nights ago, we took Alden to Baltimore for my office bowling party.

After the various grownups had bowled a few games, I gave Alden her first lesson.


We talked about the importance of visualizing the pins before throwing the ball.


We talked about the importance of good technique.


Alden grabbed the ball, heaved it with all of her failure-to-thrive might, and let it go.


The ball went further than either one of us expected that it would.

Unfortunately, I hat forgotten to teach her about bowling etiquette, especially the part about not crawling after one's ball as it makes its way down the lane.


Alden followed her ball until it lost steam and dribbled haplessly into the gutter. It was with great dismay that she realized than she had failed to knock down a single pin.


I explained that, as a weak and undersized baby, she should feel good about having moved the ball at all and that she had years to refine her game. I told her I was confident that she would become a passable bowler someday. But nothing could cheer her. Dejected, she crawled back down the gutter.


Suddenly she stopped and threw her arms into the air. She had a fantastic idea.


If she wasn't quite yet able to bowl on her own...


...then she could help me bowl.

My score suffered somewhat in light of Alden's contribution, but I had a lot of fun.


And though she likely wouldn't admit it, I think Alden did, too.

Posted by bogenamp at 09:40 PM

Important Discovery

Every day now, it seems Alden learns something new about her world. She's getting more mobile, more curious, more daring. The exploration leads to new discoveries, new frontiers, new opportunities...


I bet next she'll be wanting to pick her friends, if not their noses.

Posted by bogenamp at 12:26 AM

April 08, 2009

Unit 31B Incinerates Jon

The latest One-Page Wonder has been posted to Tor.com. You can download it by clicking here.

Unit 31B Incinerates Jon is the tragic tale of love that was never meant to be.

Here is the tremendously desirable Unit 31B, the object of hapless spaceman Jon's unwavering affections.


Unfortunately the shapely mechanic has little use for Jon and his special feelings. She deals with the unwelcome attention efficiently and with ruthless precision.

Here's an excerpt from Robbi's illustration.


If you haven't printed out and constructed any of these yet, it only takes a few minutes, and from what I hear, it is a lot of fun.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:15 AM

April 07, 2009

Technical Difficulties

It was my turn to get Alden up this morning. I changed her, dressed her, and fed her breakfast while Robbi got a bit of extra beauty sleep. It wasn't until Robbi showed up mid-meal that Alden and I realized that a mistake had been made.


Apparently I lack a full understanding of which piece of baby clothing is supposed to go where. Certainly Alden had no complaints about my skills.

After breakfast, I got dressed for the day, but apparently was no more successful in properly dressing myself than I had been with the baby.


Alden and I think that Robbi could benefit from a little outside-the-box thinking.

It's really not so different from inside-the-box thinking.



Posted by bogenamp at 09:35 AM

April 05, 2009


I submit further evidence of Alden's will to thrive. Just yesterday she realized an important milestone in that inevitable evolution from the crawling to the walking child. Our friend Veronica snapped this shot.


In spite of her diminutive stature, in spite of her disproportionately large head, and in spite of her spindly, inconsequential legs, the child is clearly standing.

Although I look forward to her first few halting steps, it is the countless ones to follow that are sure to change and complicate our lives.

Posted by bogenamp at 10:26 PM

April 04, 2009

Failure to Thrive

Last week, we took Alden for her one-year checkup. Before we left for the doctor's office, we placed bets as to how much she had grown since her nine-month visit (at which time she had weighed 14 pounds, 10 ounces). Both of us thought that she had grown quite a bit, though we disagreed as to how much. I guessed that she was 17 pounds, 8 ounces, and Robbi guessed 18 pounds, 9 ounces. Bob guessed 27 pounds, but one wonders if he might have been joking.

In any case, at the official weigh in, we learned that all of us had overshot the mark. Quite a bit, in fact. Alden weighed in at 15 pounds, 10 ounces, a figure that placed her well below the 5th percentile on a chart that looked a little bit like this one.


Her sub-fifth percentile status, combined with an overly-gradual rise on the growth curve places her squarely in a category of smallness known to the medical community as Failure to Thrive.

As the doctor was making this pronouncement, Alden was scampering enthusiastically across the floor of the examination room, chattering cheerfully and clapping her hands at intervals. The evidence of her thriving so abundant, the doctor sheepishly declared that Alden would temporarily be spared the usual battery of tests to which a child who is Failing to Thrive would usually be subjected. He allowed that genetics might well be a contributing factor to Alden's diminutive stature and that we should make a point to feed her in abundance in the weeks ahead. If we can fatten her sufficiently, he will worry less about her ability to thrive.

In addition to diet enhancement, we have launched a strenuous regimen of physical activities meant to promote vigor. This slate of exercises includes:

Daily conditioning on the new trike.


Morning benchpress.


The ottoman squat.


And the plastic car lift.


To supplement these activities, and entirely of her own volition, Alden has taken to taunting wild animals in cages.


We asked her why it was necessary. "Because it makes me thrive," she replied.


We must sheepishly admit that it seems to be working. The child does little else but thrive these days. It takes all of our effort to keep up with her.

Posted by bogenamp at 11:26 PM

April 02, 2009

Not Always the Best Policy

The following is a school assignment turned in by Robbi's friend Whitney when she was but a small girl, presumably a report on a book called Last Day of Brightness. (My Google search returned no information regarding author or date of publication.)


I think this stands as an object lesson for parents regarding the importance of teaching children to either do their homework or be more artful in covering their tracks. There is something so appealing in Whitney's unguarded honesty. And if she truly did not read the book, are we to imagine that what details she does offer are purely fictional, based entirely on the implication of the title? If this is the case, should Whitney not be rewarded for her inventiveness, arguably a more important virtue than the ability to read and reiterate the basic plot elements of a children's book?

Let us not overlook Whitney's decision to begin a new paragraph for her admission of non-reading. And that she remembered to indent it. How wonderful that she paid heed to the fine points of how one is to behave when completing a book report while forgetting the part about reading the book itself.

And don't you wonder what the teacher wrote and then blotted out at the bottom? It probably wasn't "Hurrah, you have imagination. Never let it get away from you." But maybe it should have been.

Whitney is an artist (here is her site). And I think her origins as a creator of things is evident here. This book report is far superior to the one that would have better pleased her teacher.

Here is one of her many wonderful illustrations.


Posted by bogenamp at 11:29 PM